Beware the French lifeguards

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nigelhatton
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Beware the French lifeguards

Post by nigelhatton »

Tuesday last week paddling my sea kayak a young fella on a jet ski told me the yellow flag is flying and I must go into the beach.
This was at Narbonne Plage on the Mediterranean coast in the south west of France. I made it clear I was heading to the Spanish border and I had started my trip at another location and I had no car at Narbonne Plage. He insisted I go into the beach at exit the sea with my kayak. But I continued paddling south on my course and even cought a small wave to surf and build up speed but he powered his jet ski up and cought me in just a few seconds shouting at me that I must go to the beach now, all in French. He manoeuvred the jet ski and successfully blasted me with a water jet into my body and soaked me.
The lifeguards in France are on a power trip at the moment because of the Muslim problèmes and are assuming more authority than what they have so this is why I am posting this now.
The fact is they work in an advisory way and can be persuasive and firm with it but they cannot force anyone off the sea here even if paddling through their 100 metre zone as I was .
In my xp 18 I'm more vulnerable when stopped in slightly choppy seas and he'd stopped the ski n front of me. I explained there is no chance whatsoever of me going into the beach he used his radio and contacted the shore. His shore team would have seen I was in a long sea going kayak and properly dressed for the sea. I was not gonna let this youngster attach a line to my kayak so I kept clear of the ski but my anger was boiling at being messed about by some classroom theorist. I paddled away and he called to me to be careful of the wind of which there wasn't much.
My mistake was to paddle within the yellow bouyed zone, his zone as he referred to it.
So in future if anyone is coming down to the south of France kayaking and yellow flags are up in a certain zone then just stay out outside of them but don't take crap from these lifeguards. only the Gendarmerie can force you off the water. The young fella failed to see my kayak is registered and that allows me to be much further from the shore than the normal 300 metre rule.

john.ruston
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by john.ruston »

Thanks for this Nigel. I read your item half an hour ago and I'm still simmering! Well done for keeping your cool.

Ian R Lambert
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by Ian R Lambert »

Thanks for sharing this. Can you explain how you "registered" in order to comply with limits for offshore use?

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GrahamC
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by GrahamC »

I presume that registration is through the UK Small Ships Register (£25 for 5 years), which makes me ask the question as to whether anyone knows where to get good quality self adhesive Red Ensigns?
___________

john.ruston
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by john.ruston »

If you don't find what you want in a retailer ask a sign maker or a printer who does "VINYLS" These folk can take pretty much any image and put it on a self adhesive film. J.

pathbrae
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by pathbrae »

I suspect the Kayak is registered with the French CG?
So much sea - so little time to see it.

nigelhatton
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by nigelhatton »

There are two ways to register a kayak. If you live in the UK then you can apply for a registration under the SSR system over the internet. If you live in France for more than six months of the year then you go to your nearest maritime affaires office and take ID, utility bill ,certificate de conformitie from the boat maker. Registration is free of charge. If all goes well you will receive a carte De circulation for less than 7 meters.
On the card it'll have the type of vessel, kayak, the serial number,model, maker, year of construction, constructors country, width, lengthy, name and address, vesssal name and the registration number.
You carry it with you all the time so best you waterproof it. When stopped by the gendarmerie and they ask just give it to them.
Realistically you'll unlikely ever to be stopped but I have a few times because sometimes I paddle across bays and take shortcuts.

john.ruston
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by john.ruston »

Reading all these very helpful posts I am thankful to be based in the UK where sea tourers are still fairly free from state interference/regulation. Long may this happy state continue. J.

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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by nigelhatton »

The unfortunate side of being totally free of legislation in the UK are the constant rescues of kayakers and canoeists that have to be rescued through not having basic skills and sea awareness. Maybe a simple compulsory training system for everyone would save several lives per year!

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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by john.ruston »

Not sure about the ... "Have to ...". Nigel.
Compulsory would sit very well with our continental friends. A whole lot of sea paddlers are out there to get away from control and regulation. Perhaps those who aren't comfortable with the possibility of rough consequences are in the wrong environment. J.

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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by Rainshine »

You can look at the annual WAID reports for exmple and see the absolutely minuscule numbers of boat related drowning fatalities in all forms of UK waters (from the sea to baths and jacuzzis). The fatality numbers are so small that its impossible to see any legislation or regulatory system producing any reduction in the number of kayaking related deaths in UK water bodied - rivers, lochs, lakes and seas (I'm assuming most can't fit their kayak into the bath so they don't die kayaking in the bath!!!). The overall annual number of fatalities from drowning are very small when you consider the size of the UK population, the number of people coming into contact with water and the fact that these figures include intentional drownings - the categories covering kayaking/canoeing form an inconsequential proportion of the total.

I'm with John on this one - one of the wonderful things about sea kayaking, open water swimming and other watersports here in Scotland is the sheer freedom from mandatory regulation and state interference. In fact its much the same for all outdoor sports in Scotland. We are each free to make our own decisions about the risks we take and the education/training we obtain. Naturally, that carries certain consequences but I think those consequences are worth it for the priceless freedom we have.

pathbrae
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by pathbrae »

Well said Rainshine. "Compulsory" would also sit well with all the commercial coaches and centres out there too - I can see them rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of us all having to have a "qualification" to do what we have all been doing for years....
Having said that - even if we could prevent just one drowning a year through a bit of basic paddler education, wouldn't that be a good thing?
So much sea - so little time to see it.

colinA
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by colinA »

Nigel, sorry you had such a bad experience at Narbonne plage. Firstly, I’m surprised you find a link with extremist terrorism as a cause for your interaction, I think maybe you are looking too hard !

So maybe it will help you to come to terms with this awful display of domination if I guide you to some of the underlying rules and principles governing the regulations you appear to have transgressé.

http://www.nageur-sauveteur.com/surveil ... ignade.php

OK, this explains it all, firstly …. Flags are used to indicate the state of sea for Swimmers, so flags are not important for persons embarked on Vessels, that includes Kayakers ( and BTW there are no Yellow flags, just red, Orange and Green )
But the bouyage deliminating the zones availalable to swimmers are yellow.

There are zones that are defined absolutely for swimmers only, these can extend up to 100 metres, NO VESSELS are authorised to navigate in these zones (FULL STOP) these zones are marked by small round YELLOW Bouys.

There are zones delimiting the extent of security for the swimmer , these zones are marked by YELLOW Bouys 1 metre in Diametre up to 300 metres from the shore. Vessels can navigate in this area but are subject to a speed limit.

Furthermore, Channels are marked using Shaped yellow Bouys to mark the port and starboard channel for boats to use to access the sea outside the swimmers area.

So to sum up in simple form, There are Swimmers areas, KEEP OUT
There are areas where Vessels and swimmers can mix OBEY SPEED RESTRICTION
There are channels for vessels to access the sea USE THEM

Only persons resident in France need to Register their craft.
Non residents must display their national flag

( Type ‘’Royal Ensign Sticker’’ in Ebay Search You will find little ones for Kayak from Greece ☺ )
Irrespective of Nationality, all ‘visiting vessels’ must comply with local national regulations

for brevity, go visit my blog, http://brittany-kayaking.com/paddling-in-french-waters/

there has been some modifications, I will update them in the next few days

You should question the source, I am am British, have live in France for 12 years, speak French, and have a French Partner. I have paddled in France for some 20 years, and have paddled for over 45 years ( YES OLD GIT )

I hope you , you find this helpfull ( in my 20 years paddling in France Ive never come across a difficult lifeguard ……….. I even have an extended family member who was a french lifeguard, a very nice chap ☺ )

Best regards Colin

EDIT ! There is absolutely nothing onerous about the regulations described ! Im sure all reasonable people would accept these rules as guaranteeing swimmer safety; is that really bad ?

Remember ....... In Rome do as the Romans do (A Narbonne, une personne devrait faire comme le Narbonnais)

nigelhatton
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by nigelhatton »

Colin,
I never read the link but there are yellow flags and they're raised next to the lifeguard huts. Last week i paddled from Agde to Marseillan plage and there were more yellow flags raised ashore. The lifeguards in their inflatable boats never bothered me and I stayed along the perimeter of their bouyed zones. I stay on the outer perimeter of the zones to be clear of the swimmers and more importantly to be clear of speed boats and jet skis. I already have experience of being hit by a zodiac and it's not nice. I'm also a very strong, experienced sea kayaker.
Do you live here, I do and my stretch of regular paddling is between Sete and port la nouvelle.

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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by john.ruston »

It looks like a very positive connection may have been brought about by this thread. Happy paddling France !

Could I just say on behalf of those of us who fume at the mere thought of interference with our free passage, that the original post needs a very close reading to see that the kayak was inside a demarked swimmer zone.

Bouyed lanes and no-go areas, often for swimmer safety exist all around the UK too. They can be established by competent autorities like local councils and can be enforced under by-laws. They are unlikely to affect navigation.

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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by Ken_T »

A while ago I paddled across the corner of one in the UK & had a council worker yell at me that I could have hit a child swimming, it was February & the air temperature was about -5C, no one on the beach apart from him, I just ignored him & continued my journey. I did not see any swimmers all day.
Ken

nigelhatton
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Re: Beware the French lifeguards

Post by nigelhatton »

John,
The yellow bouyed zone at Narbonne Plage is not solely for swimmers only, I have since Been back there on my bike to look again. No motor boats are allowed within the zone apart from the lifeguards mini zodiacs and their jet skis. I also observed the next beach north, St Pierre la mer, still had sit on top kayaks within the yellow bouyed zone even when the yellow flag was up.
I was right in the original post that It was just an over zealous lifeguard on a power trip.

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